Crown Heights, Brooklyn—A $2.5 million bridge loan from FJC will ensure the continuity of services at the St. John’s Place Family Center, a 97-unit Tier II shelter for homeless families, as the nonprofit owner embarks on City-financed major renovations. The project is a collaboration between Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Settlement Housing Fund.
The loan was necessary to bridge a timing and cash flow gap between when URI was to take over providing services to the families at the shelter, and the formal registration and execution of a contract from the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which will enable payment for the services. “If we hadn’t figured this out, it would have been incredibly disruptive to the families at the shelter,” explains Alexa Sewell, President of Settlement Housing Fund, which had owned and operated the site since the 1990s. Without the cash flow necessary to maintain continuity of services, St. John’s Place would have had to close down and move 97 families elsewhere, reducing the number of temporary apartments available during a time when homelessness remains at staggering levels in New York City. With the loan in place, URI can continue running the shelter without interruption as the organization waits for city payments to begin.
Approved and closed within 8 weeks of initial application submission, the loan required both speed and creativity from all parties. While URI as the service provider needed to borrow the funds, it was the property owner, Settlement Housing Fund, that posted collateral. This unique risk-sharing arrangement between the two nonprofits helped the FJC’s credit committee get comfortable approving the loan.
Settlement Housing Fund has owned the three buildings that comprise St John’s Place since the late 1990s. The organization has operated the buildings as a Tier II shelter over these decades. As part of its recent strategic planning process, Settlement Housing Fund’s leadership determined that the shelter would be best run by a specialized and scaled homeless services organization. Settlement Housing Fund identified URI as their partner, a $98.3 million organization founded in 1980s that is now the nation’s largest provider of domestic violence shelter and services and a leading provider of shelter and programs for homeless families. URI shelters across New York City can accommodate some 2,200 adults and children every night, and innovative programs for prevention, intervention and direct services for domestic violence and homelessness reach 40,000 people a year.
“URI is committed to transforming the lives of vulnerable populations across New York City with comprehensive programs and services as well as shelter,” stated URI CEO Nathaniel M. Fields. “St. Johns offers us the opportunity to impact even more adults and children, and the continuity provided by the financial arrangement allows us to do so without adding to the trauma of the families in residence.”
The St John’s Place Family Shelter represents one of the first capital rehabilitation project under the Purpose Built Shelter program of the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS). The goal of the city program is to provide capital resources and long-term contracts to enable nonprofits to own and operate Tier II shelters, which provide temporary housing to families while they seek affordable permanent housing solutions.